Sunday, 29 December 2013

The Name of the Doctor

Howdy folks. Sorry to not have been around much with the ol' blog, my computer had conniptions, died, came back from the dead and two days later died again, for good. I've been away filming this weekend, and took possession of a new computer a few days back. I spent a good three days solid setting it up, but I have 3 stories to go to finish this blog, and I hope I can still get that done this year. As from next year, this blog may change a little to include more about Professor Who and the filming of it, planning and so forth, and when the next series rolls around in August-ish of Doctor Who, to review the new episodes. There are some episodes in January (ish) I want to reassess - The Tenth Planet, Enemy of the World, Web of Fear and the Ice Warriors principally. Since I reviewed these stories, either the episodes were returned (missing) or the DVD came out with animation for missing episodes. Anyways, today's blog is about the final episode of series 7, a rather spectacular story called 'The Name of the Doctor'.
Catrin Stewart and Neve McIntosh are back as Jenny and Vastra.

For any die-hard fan of Doctor Who, this was a bit of a love letter, wasn’t it? We see every incarnation of the Doctor thus far in this episode – albeit a couple of them are incredibly fleeting (Paul McGann especially). We have Clara popped into the various Doctor’s timelines with some pretty nice (although some think a little crude) special effects work. We have the Vastra/Jenny/Strax team back together (yet still no clue as to who brought Strax back to life) again, and they are always great and Dan Starkey is just brilliantly funny, Richard E. Grant as the Great Intelligence, Trenzalore, and thankfully the ‘name’ of the Doctor is not revealed, but in fact it’s about what he stands for, what he does. Because frankly if we ever learn his name there’s nothing I can think of that would make it that special – ie – ‘Ok, you’ve got me, my name is Bert!’ Not going to live up to expectations.
Richard E Grant is also back!
Was there much of a plot? Nah. It wasn’t that sort of episode. It was basically answering the question we’ve wondered since ‘Asylum of the Daleks’, ‘Who is Clara Oswald?’. And we get a bit of glee with Clara interacting with William Hartnell. Interestingly, the sets were pretty limited in this story. I imagine the working of Clara into old footage, and the colourisation of Hartnell must have cost a bit, so we don’t get a lot of different sets – although they weren’t needed. There isn’t a lot of location shooting either – I suspect that the house Clara lives in is a location, but aside from that it seems mostly in-studio. I guess it helps keep secrets.
So are we satisfied with Clara’s story? Look, the resolution was very good, I liked it a lot. The only issue I had with it was Clara’s willingness to jump into the time stream, admittedly aided by the fact that she had been told she was the impossible girl the Doctor had met twice before, but had she formed as strong a bond between herself and the Doctor to go ahead and jump? I wasn’t quite convinced, I felt there needed a bit more in the scripts, or indeed more time for that bond to be so strong like Rose or Amy.
Nevertheless, great stuff. Less unanswered questions than usual too for a series finale, which is nice. Would really love a two-part series finale though! And then the teaser for the 50th anniversary special – the reveal of John Hurt as the Doctor! The captioning, they could have done without. Really it added nothing to the episode and generally Doctor Who has not done that sort of self-referential mularky in the past.

All in all, a fantastic way to end the series, lots of ‘squee’ moments for the fans, wraps up Clara’s storyline, I really enjoyed this. Series 7B has ended on a high with the last few episodes, after the first 4-5 episodes, solid as they were, for me failed to reach any great heights. Maybe Mr Moffatt was a bit unsure where he was taking the Series? The thing is, unlike the RTD era where we had oncoming menace that the Doctor would have to face at the end of the 13-episode run, Moffatt has chosen to arc series with a central question (with the exception of series five, which I think was the best Steven Moffatt series). In series 6 it was ‘does the Doctor die? And if not, how does he avoid death?’, Series seven it was ‘Who is Clara?’. I felt like RTD’s stuff built better because you got more pieces to the puzzle as it moved along – Series Three, despite its dreadful end, did this best of all.

As for the situation at the moment with split series and the like, Moffatt may feel that that won’t work so well. It’s easier to remember one single question during the mid-series break, than a whole set of elements that are building towards something more significant. Anyhoo, as an episode this one was great!


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